FLASH! David Popovici Sets 100 Freestyle World Record Of 46.86 (Race Video)

David Popovici
David Popovici: Photo Courtesy: LEN

David Popovici Sets 100 Free World Record Of 46.86

David Popovici set a new world record of 46.86 in the 100m freestyle final at the European Championships in Rome.

The 17-year-old sliced 0.05secs off the previous standard of 46.91 set by Cesar Cielo in the very same Foro Italico at the 2009 World Championships at the height of the shiny-suit era.

He became the second-youngest man in history to break the WR in the two-length event following Andy Coan who held it for 20 days in 1975 and the most youthful European.

It also secured a first European senior title for the Romanian, little more than seven weeks after he claimed the 100-200 double at the World Championships in Budapest.

Popovici is also the first Romanian – male or female – to win the 100 free title and only the second medallist in the event after Norbert Trandafir claimed European bronze in 2012.

Popovici set a European record of 46.98 in the semis when he became the fourth man to dip inside 47secs and touched just 0.02 outside Caeleb Dressel’s textile world mark of 46.96. It was also a world junior record.

Come the final he was in lane four, flanked on either side by Kristof Milak and Alessandro Miressi, but it was Maxime Grousset who led the way in 22.72, 0.02 ahead of Popovici.

The teenager is lightning quick around the turn, generating the power that took him clear of the field in the first few metres and a second 50 of 24.12.

Milak was next swiftest over the second lap but 0.49 slower than Popovici in 24.61, the Hungarian moving from third at halfway to take silver in a national record of 47.47.

Miressi was third in 47.63.

Mature beyond his years and nodding to the outcome of process, Popovici said:

“Yesterday I said that the European record was just one step in the right direction – and I was right.

“There was no rush and I had to be extremely patient about the world record.

“I’m still hot from the race, but these championships are not over yet, nor this very long season. It has hurt but it’s always worth it and I feel fine right now.

“It felt great and it’s very special to break this record which was set here in 2009 by Cesar Cielo.”

On being the world record-holder, he said:

“It’s nice being able to say that I’m the fastest to ever do it, this distance.

“It’s a good thing to know I clashed with all of the titans of this race and distance.”

Of it being the perfect race, he said:

“My coach will decide that but for the moment I think it’s the best race I’ve ever done.

“I planned to go very fast and have done. And that was about it.

“We had some technical things to think about and keep in mind but other than that the medal is a bonus, a good bonus, of course.”

Of what it’s like to be a world record-holder and part of a very exclusive blue riband club, he pointed to Milak, saying:

“So, I’m sort of in a world-record club and after I finished, Kristof Milak said to me ‘welcome to the club’.

“That was a nice welcome, I guess. It’s good to set new boundaries. Records are meant to be broken. I hope someone’s going to break mine and that I’m going to break his. That’s what sport is all about.”


David Popovici: Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Milak lowered Nandor Nemeth‘s national record of 47.69 before returning to the pool minutes later to go 51.01 in the 100 fly, in which he is Olympic silver medallist.

The Hungarian has himself undertaken voyages into the unknown with his first world record in the 200 fly in 2019 that crushed Michael Phelps’ long-standing mark, a standard he then lowered at the World Championships in Budapest in June.

There was something poetic about Milak being in the lane alongside Popovici, the Hungarian a pioneer himself and a member of the hugely-exciting troop of young European men who are taking the sport into new territories.

Greatness recognising greatness, Milak said:

“This was a brilliant race, a joy to swim next to David.

“I’ve just thought that perhaps I have a presence which itself means some motivation as this is the second world record set in the lane next to me.

“David is a fantastic swimmer, I think the same crazy genius of the freestyle that I am in the butterfly and it’s great that his name will hit the headlines for long, long years.

“I don’t care about this new national record here, my goal is very clear: I just want to reach a level in this event to arrive to Paris 2024 with the capability of swimming a time somewhere very close to 47sec.”

Miressi said:

“I’m happy with my time, I really want to congratulate to David who is amazing.

“It was a great race here, it could have been better but I couldn’t miss the podium at home, for sure.”


  1. David Popovici (ROU); 46.86
  2. Kristof Milak (HUN); 47.47
  3. Alessandro Miressi (ITA); 47.63
  4. Maxime Grousset (FRA); 47.78
  5. Nandor Nemeth (HUN); 48.01
  6. Lorenzo Zazzeri (ITA); 48.10
  7. Tom Dean (GBR); 48.23
  8. Andrej Barna (SRB); 48.38

For full results/splits, click here




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Virginia Coach
Virginia Coach
1 year ago

Outstanding performance. Thank you, David. We’ve been waiting 13 years for this!

1 year ago

Once again young David slays a Goliath -that untouchable 100M Freestyle record!

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